Greenwashing? Sandra Bullock Gets Duped by Big Oil's Restore the Gulf Campaign


Photo: Youtube
Something's Not Right With This Campaign
Not long ago, many celebrities got together to make a PSA for the "Be The One" campaign, urging people to sign a petition to save the Gulf of Mexico on the website RestoreTheGulf.com (very similar to the government's website at RestoreTheGulf.gov, which might have caused confusion). This all seems good, until you look at the fine print and dig below the surface... Which is what DeSmogBlog did. It turns out that the campaign's sponsors are "America's WETLAND Foundation", a front group for oil companies (Shell, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, etc), and "Women of the Storm", a Louisiana group with strong ties to America's WETLAND (the founder of the former is married to the chairman of the latter). Read on for more details.Here's the video of the campaign, featuring many celebrities (even Wendell Pierce! He was great in The Wire and Treme...):


The campaign made the rounds last week. We featured it on TreeHugger, it was on Perez Hilton, NOLA, Ecorazzi, etc.

Are They Trying to Have Taxpayers Pay for BP's Mess?
Now aside from the fact that this campaign has been put together by groups funded by Big Oil or with Big Oil ties, the main problem of the campaign is that it seems to be suggesting that taxpayers need to pay for the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico, not BP and the other oil companies and sub-contractors responsible. Nowhere in the petition or in the campaign's press material are oil companies mentioned, and the petition is extremely vague. The full text (if there's one) doesn't seem available on the website. All you see is this:

"I demand that a plan to restore America's Gulf be fully funded and implemented for me and future generations."

This seems to imply that the petition will be used to try to pressure the U.S. Government to pay for this, sticking taxpayers with the bill (or at least part of it). The oil companies would certainly like you to Be The One for that!


Photo: Youtube
Sandra Bullock Disowns the Campaign
The website Think Progress has contacted Sandra Bullock's people to let her know about this, and her reaction was to immediately disown the campaign, at least until it can be determined that it wasn't greenwashing. Her statement says:

Ms. Bullock was originally contacted through her attorney to be a part of the PSA in order to promote awareness of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At no time was she made aware that any organization, oil company or otherwise had influence over Women of the Storm or its message. We have immediately asked for her participation in the PSA be removed until the facts can be determined. Her commitment to the Gulf region has been apparent for many years and she will continue to pursue opportunities that will bring awareness and support to the plight of the Gulf region.

There's little doubt that Ms. Bullock and the other celebrities who appear in this campaign had very good intentions, and I wouldn't be surprised if after Bullock's public statement others were to follow suit and withdraw their support. The oil groups were pretty subtle (unless you look at America's WETLAND's sponsor page, that is), and that's probably why it work. They didn't come out clearly to defend oil companies, and they didn't explicitly say that the taxpayers should pay for the restoration of the Gulf, but they are still trying to shift blame and take themselves out of the equation as much as possible.

Finally, an image is worth a thousand words. Here are the main sponsors of America's WETLAND (recognize any of these logos?):

Via Desmogblog, Think Progress

More on the BP Gulf Oil Spill
Tropical Storm Bonnie Goes to Early Grave, Oil Cleanup Resumes
Tropical Storm Bonnie Nears Oil Spill, Could Delay Surface Operations by 2 Weeks
BP Relief Well 'days from completion', Oil Seepage Traced to Other Well

Tags: Gulf Oil Spill | Oil Spill | Television